Fourth-year outside linebacker Nick Perry is one of four quality edge rushers on the Green Bay Packers count on their roster for 2015. However, according to a story by ESPN's Rob Demovsky, the team isn't likely to pick up Perry's option year for 2016.
Since the enactment of the newest collective bargaining agreement in 2011, first-round picks have been limited to four-year deals with a fifth-year team option. Former top choice Derek Sherrod became the first such player eligible for the option, though the Packers declined due to the offensive tackle's injury history and poor performance.
Through his first three years in Green Bay, Perry has managed 69 tackles, four forced fumbles and nine sacks. He has appeared in a total of 32 games, missing the equivalent of a full season during that span.
The Packers must make their official decision on Perry by May 3, who would cost $7.75 million to retain under his current deal. Even if the team chooses not to exercise Perry's option, the linebacker could still return to Green Bay in 2016 with a new, less expensive contract.
At the same time, letting Perry walk would significantly deplete the Packers' pass-rushing depth. Fellow outside linebacker Mike Neal also hits free agency after this season, and 35-year-old Julius Peppers could potentially retire or receive his release at the same time. That would leave Clay Matthews as the only proven edge rusher on the roster. Accordingly, look for the Packers to consider pass rushers during this week's NFL Draft, possibly as early as their top pick.
Around the league, several other 2012 first-round picks await decisions on their fifth-year options, none bigger than quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill. Thus far, only seven eligible players have seen their options exercised:
- Andrew Luck, QB, Colts
- Luke Kuechly, LB, Panthers
- Dontari Poe, DT, Chiefs
- Quinton Coples, LB, Jets
- Melvin Ingram, LB, Chargers
- Riley Reiff, OT, Lions
- David DeCastro, OG, Steelers